Tilman Fertitta, purveyor of gaudy restaurants and Vegas casinos, has made a deal to expand his Golden Nugget empire a bit closer to home. His company recently acquired the Casino Resort and Hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is currently under construction. Just a short trip across Texas's eastern border, Lake Charles is rapidly becoming a VERY poor man's version of Atlantic City and Fertitta is cashing in his chips.
More important, it moves him ever closer to what is clearly his goal of launching a casino business in Texas. As Casey Michel pointed out in his April cover story "Doubling Down," Fertitta isn't the only one. Outside of the state-run lottery, Texas does not allow gambling, but there are plenty of people who want it here. Fertitta has made no bones about this, having already tried to push for a casino in Galveston, though we imagine it wouldn't be quite as wholesome as his Pleasure Pier.
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Until now, the state has resisted, but could they really be that far off? For now, we'll just have to learn to enjoy the aquarium, the Kemah Boardwalk and, of course, the dirty backroom, illegal gambling. Sigh.
From the Fertitta release:
The property, only two hours from Houston, Texas, will contain nearly 800 luxury hotel rooms and suites, an eighteen hole championship golf course, a world-class spa, retail shopping, a number of Landry's signature restaurants, including Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse and Grotto Italian Ristorante, an 18,000 square foot ballroom, an entertainment showroom, meeting spaces, a one of a kind pool and beach front and marina and will include over 3,000 parking spaces. The Golden Nugget Casino and Resort which is expected to open in 2014, will also include a state of the art world-class casino with over 60 table games, a poker room, and 1600 of the newest slot machines in the world. According to Tilman J. Fertitta, "I could not pass up the opportunity to build and operate a casino next door to my hometown. This casino will be where Louisiana locals and Texans will want to play, stay and enjoy themselves. We are investing nearly $600 million dollars in the project and plan to draw from our large South Texas and Louisiana customer base to drive business to our new resort."
Note the "next door to my home town" quote. There are also numerous references to South Texas. The man is on a mission.